Everyone Needs A Little Time Away

Or, so the lyrics go. Not that the band Chicago had a family vacation in mind when they wrote Hard To Say I’m Sorry. But it’s true, everyone needs a break and some time away. It doesn’t have to be far, as in our case. Just far enough to feel like your in a different place.

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

California or Bust


Packed for California Road Trip

We left behind the snow and cold for the sun, water, and scenery of Encinitas, California. You can read more about the lovely coastal town and surfing mecca of Encinitas HERE. If I won the lottery I’d by a house on a cliff overlooking the ocean. That’s my fantasy. A place by the ocean. I can’t imagine the novelty of walking out my door and along the beach every single day of my life. Darn it, I’ll just have to settle for living in a province of a 100,000 lakes with beautiful sunrises and sunsets and plenty of golf courses. Poor me.

ocean, sunset, California

Palm Frond

ocean, waves, sunset

We didn’t rush about and fit in as much sightseeing and touristy things as we usually do. We settled into our VRBO and relaxed. We did visit the San Diego Botanic Garden which is an absolute treasure and it was lovely to see all the plants and flowers after a VERY long winter. We watched surfers, dolphins and pelicans from the hot tub on our deck. I drank my fair share of margaritas.

Oh, and I read the best book. Two, actually.

The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn

Thriller, A.J. Finn

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

I couldn’t put it down. It’s twisty and turny and you’re never sure who you can trust. It managed to take me by surprise and I loved all the old movie references.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Middle Grade Book, Kenneth Oppel, Canadiana

Will Everett has always wished for an adventure.

Little does he know his started the moment he boarded The Boundless. The longest, most glamorous locomotive in the world, it stretches more than eleven kilometres long and pulls an astounding 987 cars: passenger cars, shooting galleries, gardens, an onboard swimming pool, cinema and much more. But its maiden voyage won’t be a smooth ride for Will. After witnessing a murder during a station stop, he barely makes it back onto the train (with a running leap!), then must work his way from the caboose forward to his father in first class – with the murderer and his cronies on his tail. Luckily, a clever and nimble friend is perfecting her act in The Boundless’s circus car, and there the real thrill ride begins. Sasquatches, bog-dwelling hags and illusions abound in this outsized adventure aboard the Titanic of trains!

This is a middle grade book that we read it to our daughter on this trip. It’s so good! Very Canadian, which I adore. A cast of colourful characters are in for the ride of their life as the Boundless traverses the Canadian Pacific railway not long after the last spike is nailed into place. Also, and people probably don’t know this about me, I’m a Sasquatch (Bigfoot) enthusiast. And guess what? There are Sasquatch in this book!

Until next time…

Where is your fantasy home located? Or share the name of a book you’ve enjoyed lately!

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A Book Review And A Bit of This and That

Well…March has entered like a lion in my neck of the woods with our area getting between 20 and 25 centimetres (8 to 10 inches) of snow. I know we’re not supposed to go on and on about the weather, because how boring, but holey moley that was a lot of shovelling. More so for Jack than me, if I’m being honest, which I almost always am. Also, a huge thank you to our snow blowing neighbours, of which we have three. Each of them took to heart the help a neighbour shovel out campaign and made runs up and down our sidewalks and driveway.

Also, of special interest to me as I’m the parent of a child with special needs, is the fact that March 7th marks the annual R-word: Spread The Word To End The Word campaign. We can all agree the R-word needs retiring, like other hurtful words that mock and malign have been in the last few years.

Spread The Word To End The Word

A Book Review

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

Bellewether is my favourite kind of book and reading it gave me so much joy. I didn’t want it to end. Very well written in Susanna Kearsley’s usual clever style, I fell in love with the characters and I also felt like I was given a glimpse into the every day life of the times. The book is set Long Island, New York, in both present day and during the last year of the Seven Years War . It also had a Canadian connection, which I very much appreciated.

The heroines of each time have both had their lives upended, both having suffered tragic personal loses. Charley Van Hoek is settling into her new job as curator of the Wilde House Museum when she learns of the long ago doomed romance between a French Canadian lieutenant, Jean-Phillipe de Sabran and Lydia Wilde. She is determined to include their history in the museum’s tribute to Benjamin Wilde, Lydia’s famous brother. Not everyone on the museum board agrees with her, but luckily the Wilde house is happy to help her figure it out.

Romance, war, historical intrigue, Bellewether has it all. And I didn’t guess the twist until the end!

*I received this ARC courtesy of Netgalley

* Book Available April 24, 2018

A bit about the Seven Years’ War

The Seven Years War (1756–63) was the first global war, fought in Europe, India, and America, and at sea. In North America, imperial rivals Britain and France struggled for supremacy. Early in the war, the French (aided by Canadian militia and Aboriginal allies) defeated several British attacks and captured a number of British forts. In 1758, the tide turned when the British captured Louisbourg, followed by Québec City in 1759 and Montréal in 1760. With the Treaty of Paris of 1763, France formally ceded Canada to the British. The Seven Years’ War therefore laid the bicultural foundations of modern Canada.

Interesting Links!

10 Captivating Books That Portray Disease and Disability Through Fiction

10 Captivating Books That Portray Disease and Disability Through Fiction

Reading List: Aspergers?Autism Romance

Reading List: Asperger’s/Autism Romance

Have you heard of or read other books by Susanna Kearsley? If you like time slip novels, check her out! Also, please share your recommendation of other books who feature characters who differently abled!

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Modern Day Fairy Tales

Monday was National Tell a Fairy Tale Day and I’ll let you in on a not so little secret, Beauty And The Beast is my favourite fairy tale. Or, more accurately, the more modern Disneyfied version of La Belle et La Bete written in the 18th century by French novelist Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve is my favourite fairy tale.

Beauty and the Beast

La Belle et La Bete VS Beauty and the Beast

One would assume the older version of the fairy tale would be the more gruesome and deadly. Surprisingly, it’s not. While the theme of learning to love, irregardless of appearances, is at the center of both tales, in the original the Beast is not being punished for a wrongdoing, he is the victim of an injustice. He refuses to marry his governess, an old and wrinkled evil fairy. so she curses him. A good fairy intervenes and promises a reversal of the evil spell if he can find someone to love his beastly self. She also camouflages the castle in a fog and puts everyone to sleep. Or turns them to stone, I can’t remember.

Also, there is no deadline in the original fairy tale. No fading rose. But a rose does cause problems in the original, as Belle’s father picks one for her from the Beast’s garden, to which the Beast takes great exception.

There is no Gaston, no Le Fou, no singing servants in the 18th century version. But there are costumed monkeys and birds. And, of course, both versions of the fairy tale include a courtship (with notable differences), and Belle does leave to visit her family in both versions. The Beast’s curse is broken in each and the handsome prince once again has his looks. But where the Disney version ends, the original has more to it. Mainly, a nasty mother-in-law who’s not impressed with her new daughter’s-in-law less than noble standing and a plot twist worthy of The Sixth Sense.

Books That Read Like Modern Day Fairy Tales

Helpful Link!

20 New Fairy Tale Retellings For Adult Readers

Do you like fairy tales? Prefer the modern take on things or the original version?

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Give Your Love A Book For Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day! A day for cards and chocolates, and who doesn’t love chocolate! But if your love is a passionate reader, remember to stop by the bookstore after you hit the flower shop and the card store.

The Top Five Reasons To Give Books For Valentine’s Day:

  1. Nothing says I Love You! like a well chosen book. Even a misguided choice will do. Giving a book says they understand and support your obsession.
  2. You can return books. Let’s face it, sometimes your significant others might know you love books but they’re clueless about what you actually like to read.
  3. Books don’t make you sneeze.
  4. There’ll be some of it left over the next morning, unlike the chocolate you inhaled.
  5. Books are full of good ideas, especially romance novels. They just might have a sexy suggestion or two for later.

Love Quote

Also, if you’re solo this Valentine’s Day, because, hey, you choose to be, you can take yourself to the bookstore and buy your own book! How about organizing a Galentine’s Day book club with flowers and chocolates for everyone.

Likewise, if you’re suffering this V Day, and are in need of comfort. You don’t even have to leave the house to find some solace, eBooks have you covered.

Love Quote

Thought Of The Week:

I read this article in the Chicago Tribune which ponders the future of the romance novel in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

“Romance offers that comfort read, but it also offers resistance. You have a lot of feminists who are writing romance, Alisha Rai, Alyssa Cole, Sarah MacLean, and they’re all putting that kind of thread through their books. Resistance has always been there. Women have always had to resist in order to get what they want out of life,” Beverly Jenkins

Go ahead and buy yourself a treat this Valentine’s Day and get that book you’ve been wanting to read. You deserve it.

What are you’re plans for Valentine’s Day?

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My Favourite Romance Tropes!

Tropes are popular. Movies have them, television shows have them. Books have them. Look no further than the romance genre that’s never met a trope it didn’t like. Some of which we love and some we love to hate. That’s what makes taglines and covers so important. It’s the first indication of what you can expect to find inside the pages of a book.

Romance TropesMy Top Five Favourite Romance Tropes:

  1. Reunion/Second Chance Stories (Hands down my go to favourite trope! Bonus points if they take place in a small town! Sigh…)
  2. Badass Bookworm (Intelligence is a major turn-on for me.)
  3. Fish Out Of Water (Nothing makes me happier than a heroine or hero who finds themselves in a situation they never imagined without the appropriate skills to navigate it.)
  4. Nerd Hero (Heroes with brains? Glasses? A aptitude for math? Don’t talk to me until I’m done the book.)
  5. Beauty and the Beast (Always.)

My Top Least Favourite Romance Tropes:

  1. Enemies to Lovers (This scenario does not work for me! Not sure why!)
  2. Marriage of Convenience (I always think I’ll these ones and then I never, ever do. I think because they often have an unequal power dynamic.)
  3. Famous Hero/Normal Heroine (These leave me cold, for lack of a better term. That includes billionaire heroes, rock star heroes, sports heroes. I know, I’m weird.)
  4. Little Sister/Older Brother’s Best Friend. (The conflict often results from breaking a dated bro code and that doesn’t work for me.)
  5. Boss/Secretary (Just..yuck! Again, I never enjoy the power dynamic of these type of workplace romances.)

I guess you could say I definitely have preferences. I LOVE to root for the underdog. Intelligent characters are a must for most readers, but high IQs, geniuses, characters who are passionate or experts in their fields draw me right in. On the other hand, hardworking, salt of the earth, self-sacrificing characters who are just looking to keep their heads down and get the job done are also a favourite of mine.

romance novels

But any book with the word ‘bastard’ in the title – no, thanks. That goes for books with the word ‘submissive’ anywhere on the cover too. As you might have guessed from my least favourite list, any book where the representation of power is immediately perceived to be unequal is of little interest to me.

As for my own writing, BACKLASH definitely has a second chance at love feel to it. EXPOSED has a smidgen of a May/December trope. OFF THE GRID has both a badass bookworm (or smart, passionate doctor) and nerd hero vibe. And if you enjoy the family dysfunction trope, you’ll love the book I’m working on right now.

However, despite my lists, I’m always open to great writing and well-developed characters. And if a favoured author pens a book that looks like it might fall into the ‘nope’ category, I’ll definitely check it out. After all, we learn as much from books we don’t like as from the ones we do.

How about you? What are your favourite types of stories? Least favourite?

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Reading Away The January Blues

Any time is a good time to read a book, but something about the cold winds of winter, cozy blankets, and hot tea encourages me to hunker down and read away the January blues. Blue Monday falls somewhere in January, There’s some debate about which Monday specifically, and how the defining formula works, but I think it’s safe to say some of us find January challenging for a variety of reasons. My coping strategy is reading.

My January TBR Pile

My January TBR pile is an eclectic mix of books. Most of which I was fortunate enough to receive as Christmas gifts. I’ve finished reading The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld. This was our January book club pick and let me just say, wow. I can’t say enough good thing about this book. It checked all my favourites: remote setting, strong but damaged protagonist, enthralling plot, excellent pacing.

I have started Stephen King’s On Writing. A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie is sitting beside me on my desk as inspiration! Also, I was lucky enough to win a $25 KOBO gift card, so I bought a book by a favourite author, Nora Roberts’ Year One.

Take that January blues!

Karyn Good, Romantic Suspense Author

Upcoming News

My novel, BACKLASH, is included in a romantic suspense boxset, Closer To Danger, that is available for preorder and comes out February 8th. The entire boxset is only $2.99 (US) at Amazon US and $3.76 (CAN) Amazon CAN.

Closer To Danger: A Romantic Suspense Boxset

Six romantic suspense books! If you love intrigue, are looking for excitement, or want to set your heart racing, preorder now and don’t miss the chance to read books by these talented authors: Rachel Brimble, Suzanne Rossi, Mitzi Pool Bridges, Robena Grant, Debra Jupe.

What does your reading list look like for January?

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Memorable (To Me) Fathers in Fiction

Gosh, I’m so glad that I have a partner and that we support each other in this crazy business we like to call parenting. Hopefully, we do a decent job. Most days, anyway. And I definitely wouldn’t want to do this job without him. He’s a great father and role model for our kids. I also born into a two parent family. I have a very involved father. Fact: I’m a lot like my Dad. At 79 years young he rocks at texting and using emojis more than me. And he never shies away from learning new things. I love my Dad to the moon and back.

I think, if there’s one role within families that is changing with the times, it’s the role of father. But maybe that’s because I’m a mother…and when I think about it our role has changed too. We’ve come a long way from thinking the 1950’s ideal family unit is the only option These days fathers can be the stay-at-home parent. He can be gay or straight, have stepchildren, adoptive kids, and he’s given necessary label of parent rather than babysitter.

When it comes to fictional dads, I don’t not have to put one iota of effort into naming my very favourite father character, which would be Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Quiet, polite, and smart. And he loved to read! I have loved him since high school.

“Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell’s shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there. You understand?”

 

Here are three other books I feel have memorable dads or father figures:

I’m so thankful for my dad. He taught me about taking risks, encourages me to step outside my comfort zone and he’s always there for me. And here’s to fictional fathers, the past, present and future examples of a changing world.

Who are some of your favourite fictional dads?

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My Summer Reading List

Yesterday on Instagram I shared a summer reading list I compiled of books I want to read. Hopefully I’ll get to more than a few of the books on my lists this summer. My Instagram list, however, is comprised of books I have yet to purchase. I have a stack of books I ready own that I need to read first.

Summer to me means books! Lots and lots of books and reading. My goals are always ambitious. But that’s what goals are for, right? To push one’s self.

I’m currently reading The Romance Writer’s Guide To Life by Sharon Pywell. I’m enjoying this one even though I prepared myself for some serious stereotyping of romance readers. That hasn’t happened so far. But I’m still kind of holding my breath.

Summer Reading List: Books I Already Own:

  • The Break by Katherena Vermette. A finalist in Canada Reads and a recommendation from a trusted source.
  • Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel of Letters by Mark Dunn. This one sounds really intriguing and given to me by another trusted source. I love it when that happens!
  • The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. I’ve had this one for awhile now and I think I’m scared to start it. Here’s hoping the sunny days and summer heat make me less shy about this one.

Summer Reading List: Books I Have Yet To Purchase:

I hope you check out a few of the books and links listed. Most of these authors are new to me and I’ve picked these books for a reason. Not only do I feel like they will make my summer a better one than it’s already promising to be, but I’m hoping to get some insight to where I want to go from here with my own writing. As I rap up my fourth romantic suspense story, I more and more wonder if the romance genre is the right place for me. I will always love romance, but more and more I find it doesn’t fit my writing needs. The more I learn about my process and my strengths and weaknesses, the more I want to write women’s fiction. But more on this in the months to come.

I want to hear what’s on your summer reading list?

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Reading Improves Your Mental Health

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”  Joyce Carol Oates

May 1st to 7th is Mental Health Week here in Canada, not sure that holds for the rest of the world but it doesn’t really matter. Mental health is a subject for all 52 weeks of the year anywhere on the planet. I’m only just realizing how important a well rounded self-care regimen really is to one’s continued mental wellbeing. And seeing as my mental health isn’t always within the optimal range you could be fair to say I’m a slow learner. Good thing it’s never too late to start taking care of yourself.

Three websites listing MANY resources for those who are suffering or who know someone that is:

I wish I could list links for the planet, but hopefully the links above give you an idea of what information and resources you can search out in your own country or region.

But most importantly: Ask for help or seek advice from a professional – give your mental health the attention it needs and deserves.

I can say from personal experience, you won’t regret it. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy gave me important tools to manage my symptoms of depression and anxiety. But in reality it’s of benefit to everyone as we all have to deal with life’s challenges, stresses, and demands. Learn how to manage negative thinking or inaccurate thoughts. Learn the difference between positive thinking and realistic thinking. Make your mental health a priority!

We all need and deserve breaks. But we can’t all jump on a plane or boat and spend a month in Bora Bora. There are numerous ways to relieve stress that won’t put you in the poor house.

One of my favourite ways to relieve stress? Reading. Of course, reading has many benefits, but it’s also a way to reset and recharge. Six minutes of reading can reduce your stress levels by 68%. In the last few months I’ve taken to reading print books again, after having all but given them up. It was a craving really, a desire to hold a print book in my hands. There’s a term for this – slow reading. I guess it’s no surprise that I’m back to reading print (I haven’t given up ebooks!) as I’ve embraced a more mindful life style. Science has proven slow reading reduces stress, increases your ability to concentrate, and improves your sleep.

I’ve just started a wonderful (so far) book: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware! Good thing because this month promises to be a busy one.

When travel journalist Lo Blacklock is invited on a boutique luxury cruise around the Norwegian fjords, it seems like a dream career opportunity.

But the trip takes a nightmarish turn when she wakes in the middle of the night to hear a body being thrown overboard – only to discover that no-one has been reported missing from the boat.

How do you stop a killer, when no-one believes they exist?

Funny how reading about murder allows me to relax! What do you do to relieve stress? And please, offer book recommendations! I’m always in need of a great book to read.

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Books, Mothers, and Memories

I remember trips to the library to pick out books with my kids. Me pulling them along in our wagon. Loading up on books and coming home to read. Cuddling up and turning the pages. Maybe we’d read the story before, or maybe it was a new to us story. Those times are among my fondest memories. I still remember their favourites: Something Out Of Nothing by Phoebe Gilman, Have You Seen Birds by Barbara Reid, Arthur books, Franklin books, Berenstain Bears books. Matthew and The Midnight Pirates by Allen Morgan and Michael Martchenko. Okay, maybe that was one of my favourites. And every time I read Love You Forever by Robert Munsch I tried not to cry.

“Goodnight stars,

Goodnight air,

Goodnight noises everywhere.”

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

I remember going to the library with my mom, who is also an avid reader. Our small town had a cozy little library but it seemed huge to me. And full of possibilities. I’m so very glad she introduced me to the idea of a room filled with books for the borrowing. Thank you, Mom!

Another memory. We lived in a farmhouse on a mixed cattle/grain operation. In the winter, we kids often ended up downstairs playing games or watching television. My mom stayed upstairs. You could usually find her sitting over a heat register on the floor reading a book. That was her escape time. Because we moms need those.

The Gift of Reading

My sister takes the Adorables to the library. And when she comes to visit it’s one of the first places my mom takes her. Bedtime means story time or reading time depending on the age and ability of the child. I hope that’s one of things my kids will remember when they get older. All those trips to library. All the books. The words. The pictures. The love that went into reading them. The time spent.

Some of you might enjoy this article: The Simple Practices to Nurture the Motivation to Read. Whether you’re reading to your kids, your siblings’ kids, the neighbour kids or your grandkids. Maybe you volunteer at a shelter, a community centre, or a library.

Book Recommendation

I’m wrapping up reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which is our May book club pick. And what a fantastic read it is! If you find yourself in need of some respite, this is the book for you! An engaging delight for the senses in the form of a captivating story with intriguing characters.

Reading

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks. When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris in June of 1940, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure’s.

There are many things about this novel that are wonderful. That make reading it an experience to be savoured. One of the small things that I took away from it is the importance of creativity. Of books, of music, of art. And how those things can soothe, even for a moment, a tortured soul.

Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday. What’s a treasured book memory of yours?

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